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LEAP Science and Maths Schools
2016 International Service Project – Rotary Club of Erie
After a year of exploration and vetting, the Rotary Club of Erie has adopted its 2016 international project that supports Rotary International’s ongoing goal of strengthening the capacity of communities to support basic education and literacy.  Similar to the highly successful ten-year District 7280 literacy project partnership with the Rotary Club of Les Cayes, Haiti, our Erie Rotary Club is partnering with the Rotary Club of Cape Town-Newlands, South Africa where the Apartheid legacy of educational deprivation continues to inhibit the poorest children from reaching any significant educational level thus keeping them relegated to the lowest economic levels of society with grim prospects for future employment, almost certainly perpetuating the cycle of poverty, crime and violence within their community.
Simply stated, through educational partnerships and curriculum design, LEAP is creating systemic change – by rectifying the appalling situation of the poorest students in South Africa who receive little or no instruction in math or science – by helping these students become eligible for education beyond high school, for good paying jobs, careers, and for opportunities to improve their communities.
Project Background:
During the era of Apartheid, South Africans were denied quality education as a result of the Bantu Education Act. The Apartheid legacy of educational deprivation continues even now in disadvantaged communities throughout the country, affecting the majority of people.  John Gilmour, who had deep concerns about the inequities in South African education and the affect on the South African nation as a whole, conceived an innovative solution which he named LEAP.  John’s research culminated in the development of a three-way community-based, school partnership including: 
  • Two or three township schools from a disadvantaged community provide motivated students to a LEAP School.
  • A LEAP school with a no-fee, quality high school education giving students the qualifications to access university opportunities and the ability to succeed in that environment - academically, socially and psychologically.
  • A high school of privilege that could share its resources to the benefit the LEAP school students.
To date, the LEAP model has achieved stunning results. With students drawn from township school partners and selected on the basis of attitude rather than aptitude, LEAP students achieved a 94% annual matriculation pass rate by the end of 2014, with over 50% of LEAP graduates qualifying for university-level acceptance.  Ten years ago, only 1% of graduates qualified in one of the researched townships.
Project Activities:
A new campus is being developed for LEAP serving the Alexandra community in Johannesburg. The current school buildings consist of an old house and a re-furbished agricultural shed -- neither building is purpose-built for education and, although LEAP3 has managed to function well in that space, the physical facilities are not conducive to learning excellence. The LEAP Board decided to invest in developing physical infrastructure.
Regional Financial Goals:
Thanks to the support of a $1,500 Rotary District 7280 grant and the Erie Rotary Club gift of $1,700, we have a jump start on our stretch goal of $10,000 to assist in the completion and furnishing of one classroom in the new school – a classroom which will be recognized and acknowledged as a Rotary Gift. 
Project Partners:
The Erie Rotary Club invites interested partners, including individuals, organizations, schools and other Rotary clubs to become partners.  Currently for this project, the Rotary Club of Erie is partnered with the Rotary Club of Newlands in Cape Town, with additional support from Rotary District 7280, the Mercyhurst University Rotaract Club and the Villa Maria Interact Club.  All monies raised will be combined and sent to the Rotary Club of Newlands-Cape Town South Africa, which, in conjunction with donations received from other Rotary Clubs in the USA, will apply for Rotary International Matching Grants.
Rotarian Volunteers:
Our Rotary LEAP Committee Members include:
Dawn Joy, Chair (, Mary Ellen Dahlkemper, Vice Chair, Karen Burton-Horstman, Dr. David Doupe, Gary Flick, Betsy Monsalve, Michele Robertson, Laurie Root, Norm Stark, Melanie Titzel, Chuck Walczak, Stephaie Williams, and Roger Zurn,   
For Further Reading:
Deplorable living conditions in South Africa.  Students show great courage and ambition to improve their economic status when given the chance to learn through the LEAP program.

Dedicated role models for students, LEAP program teachers are specially trained in the science and math curriculum needed for successful education beyond high school.


Through the LEAP Future Leaders Programme, 12% of all LEAP graduates will become fully qualified teachers and future education leaders thus ensuring systemic change for South Africa.


More photos showing students in the LEAP Science and Maths Schools program - students who now have a chance of graduating high school and attending college ultimately returning to their community as major contributors.